How do you manage the mobile data crunch?
Recently, I started taking a more serious look at how much mobile data I've been using. My Verizon plan provided me with 4GB of data per month (plus allowed me to use a mobile hotspot).
After looking at how I've been using my data, I've used more than **2GB** exactly once in the last year: ~3.2GB for December. Well, enough throwing away money!
So, I dropped down to the lowest tier (2GB / month, no mobile hotspot). Go figure, the moment I do this, I start to run into some data issues! Thanks to going out of town and then streaming a few hours of Rdio, I'm finding that I need to start doing some drastic data saving measures.
Basically, while less than halfway through my billing cycle, I used something like 70% of my mobile data. That meant I could really only use about 35MB per day. In theory, that sounds fine. But accidentally opening up Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter eats up a huge chunk of data right off the bad. It got to the point where I either turned on Airplane Mode or turned off cellular data. Once I was at home or the office, the phone hopped on the WiFi network and I had no problems.
Watching my dwindling data supply gave me as much anxiety as watching my dwindling power supply (fun fact: anything below 80% means it's time for emergency conservation measures).
How do you track and cope with limited mobile data?
What it comes down to is the applications you're using. Does the iPhone show you your data consumption on a per-app basis? On Android I can see which apps use the most data (and battery, of course), and make decisions based on that.
For example, my biggest data hog is my podcast app, Doggcatcher. Now, if I were actually regularly in danger of hitting my cap, Doggcatcher has the option to only download episodes when I'm on WiFi. Other apps have similar options. I'm never in this danger, so I just let it download whenever it wants.
For me, historically the worst offender in terms of both battery and data consumption has been Facebook. I hate that app so much... For some reason it insists on always running and it takes up a ton of data. Or at least, it has in the past. I've uninstalled it because it annoyed me so much and I don't like using Facebook anyway :)
just one good reason to find a carrier that sucks less. i'm a huge fan of Republic Wireless, but the t-mobile plan mentioned above by Dignan17 is also fantastic.
my point was only that you could usually get an extra cost savings by refraining from the subsidized device process, but in your case i'm not sure VZW would honor both the grandfathered plan and the discounted service for bringing your own device.
However, saving data tips!
1. Using chrome's compression (on android, is it on iOS?) seems to save me some data
2. Only listen to local music in the car, not streaming.
3. Set social networks to only refresh manually. (In your case, hide them in a folder if you are accidentally clicking them :P )
4. The obvious one, WiFi where available. I realize though that a lot of the time phones are only used when you are out and not at home/work
I've taken to turning off as many background services as possible, and set up any photo sync to only do it on WiFi.
$40/mo for unlimited everything including LTE service (drops to slower data rates after 5GB)
my wife is on the $25/mo plan for unlimited everything but only 3G data rates (again, drops to slower rates after 5GB of data)
if i'm feeling particularly thrifty, i can tap a few buttons on my phone to drop to a lower rate ($5/mo is the minimum) and stick there for a while (till i need more from the service) and just tap a few buttons again to switch back up to my LTE plan.
data crunch? what data crunch?
MVNO's can be good, but I'm still "brainwashed" by the reliability of Verizon. I need to know I can make a phone call when I'm 2+ hours into a bike ride and 30 miles away from my house.
RW's wifi calling gets around the reliability issue for me - but to be honest both VZW and Sprint are "usable" despite being the "least reliable" around here. they aren't as good as the GSM carriers when on the road, but they are usable.
Sprint's LTE is great around here too: I consistently get ~20Mbps down (don't recall the uplink just now, but haven't ever had an issue with it). VZW's LTE has been getting bogged down lately it seems, but the data king here is tmobile anyways.
as frankspin mentioned, they also work on wifi.
i've been with them since nov 2011 and have been very happy. they are the only sprint MVNO (that i've heard of anyway) with access to all of sprint's roaming partners (e.g. verizon) which puts them in a different class of service than Virgin, Boost, Ting, etc.
with Softbank investing heavily in Sprint infrastructure (they are out-spending all other carriers on LTE deployment right now) and the pending merger with T-Mobile (most likely will consolidate just the LTE infrastructure) their highspeed data footprint is poised to be second to none in the near future (6-12 months out in my opinion).
sadly their voice network won't improve from any of this (well, some of sprint-vision includes CDMA upgrades, but that's paltry next to the data improvements). so if sprint VOICE service is dire in your area, not much is likely to change till VoLTE is up and running. when that happens it might be worth checking back into Sprint again.
My telecom provider offers 3 choices with what happens after exceeding your data limit:
- You pay per MB used after that at full 4G speeds.
- Your speed gets throttled to something like 256 K for the rest of the month.
I chose option 2 just to protect myself from paying extra.